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Shearings Excursions

Doncaster
Level Contributor
49 posts
7 reviews
Shearings Excursions

Hi folks! We're going on the Shearings "Heart of Italy" trip in August and would like to know how much their optional excursions are as it doesn't tell you in their brochure. Any info Ladies and Gents??

Manchester.
Level Contributor
238 posts
1. Re: Shearings Excursions

From my experience with coach tours, you will get a list of optional excursions once you arrive or sometimes together with your tickets. Its then up to you which ones you would like to take and prices vary of course depending on the destination.

London, United...
6 posts
1 review
2. Re: Shearings Excursions

Hi yes to go on these tours and holidays you may need the patience of a saint and the constitution of RAMBO The included excursions are fine, the optional excursions are ok but please make sure you have a tour guide or second driver on board who knows what they are talking about otherwise you may get stung by entry charges to areas on interests like museam entry.

If the driver is a on their own doing an overnight stopover solo job, please be careful that they know what they are talking about once they start doing their patter or advice. if there is any problems they start reverting back to type and stating that their only responsibility is the driving. In Italy the best value on the road food joint are the Autogrill outlets they are great value for money. £1.70 gets you a great Cappucino and a Large Almond Croissant:

If the drivers take you anywhere else that looks private be careful as you may get stung. Coaches that stop at gates, of off road venues after the driver has got out to check with the owner that they are arriving, then park up 5 minutes later normally means that there is no prices on the food counter when you get in there...This means that coffee and a sticky bun could cost you £30 for 4 people.

Re the excursions please be warned about a "Third batch type of excursions called The Drivers Own Itinerary excursions.

There is no understanding whether these are sanctioned by Shearings, nor is there any clarity whether the coach is covered on its insurance policy to go off route and visit these places.

jamesharrington@mail.com

Edited: 10 January 2013, 01:05
Latina, Italy
Level Contributor
1,773 posts
3. Re: Shearings Excursions

First of all I'd be interested to know how DonnyDoncaster got on last August.

Secondly I find Sensible-Review's post very revealing. I have also read your (to date) two hotel reviews. One in Rome, the other in Sorrento. I assume you stayed in these hotels during a Shearings coach tour last year. If you stayed in a hotel in Chianciano Terme itself let's have your review on that as well.

I do know that a number of hoteliers in Chianciano Terme are now refusing to take these coach groups because the tour companies pay them less than a pittance while - I assume - charging the punters good money.

In conversation with some members of a coach group last Spring (not Shearings; an American group actually) I was told that a lot of the excursions are a rip off and confirmed Sensible-Review's observation about being taken to "favourite" stop-off places where the clients were expected/pressurised to spend on wine, olive oil and so on. Many people from that group preferred to spend a day or two wandering aimlessly round the town.

Montepulciano, Italy
Destination Expert
for Tuscany
Level Contributor
8,994 posts
7 reviews
4. Re: Shearings Excursions

Gosh, those coach parties must be really bad if hoteliers in Chianciano refuse to take them! You would have thought they'd take anyone for I've never seen a town with quite so many hotels and so very few visitors. It's almost surreal in some corners with street upon street of shuttered windows and balconies even in August.

Latina, Italy
Level Contributor
1,773 posts
5. Re: Shearings Excursions

Indeed lastraniera. It costs less to keep the hotel closed than to cater for coach parties (or so I've been told). Of course in some cases those hotels are not in line with current health and safety regulations and again, is it worth the investment to reopen them? Some have been closed for years, some have been converted into flats, but there are few buyers. The golden days of Italian spas is over unfortunately. When I go for my two weeks of "taking the waters" every Spring there are always fewer and fewer clients. It's a pity.

As you know, many spas are diversifying in beauty treatments and exotic "wellness" cures (how I hate that word!!) but there is no demand these days for the traditional spa cures for the masses.

Montepulciano, Italy
Destination Expert
for Tuscany
Level Contributor
8,994 posts
7 reviews
6. Re: Shearings Excursions

What you say is so right with respect to both the popularity of the traditional spa cures and Chianciano hotels. I can fully understand the economics yet doubt anyone (even when the economy is booming) would be tempted to invest in hotels here for there is such massive over-supply. Correct me if I'm wrong but the over-development stemmed from financial incentives in the 60s / 70s to expand these resorts? And, of course, the great shame about Chianciano is that both the medieval part of town and the area that grew up in the early part of the 20th century around the original spas are extremely attractive. We sometimes go to the Grand for drinks and that's a lovely corner. And there are still many excellent top end shops in Chianciano that presumably sprung up to cater for the affluent spa visitors. Heaven knows how they survive today but I'm grateful as it's a good place to shop.

Latina, Italy
Level Contributor
1,773 posts
7. Re: Shearings Excursions

You are quite right. There were incentives both to construct new hotels and to add storeys to existing hotels. The idea was that Chianciano would become a spa resort catering to the workers in the industrial north of Italy and indeed from all over the country. It was very popular with Sicilians, for example. It did work for a time, and I used the word "masses" in #5 deliberately. (Montecatini is another example of the phenomenon).

Even now the very basic treatment (drinking the water and hot mud packs applied to the affected organ, as it were) are on the Italian National Health Service for Italian residents. But in those days the State paid for your hotel as well, and your train ticket. Moreover you could take paid leave from your job to go for treatment. These days you have to do it in your holiday entitlement and few are prepared to "waste" 15 days of their holidays when a course of pills will do the trick just as well (or so they say). You need a prescription of course and doctors are not so willing as they used to be to prescribe spa cures.

Neverthless, there are still some good hotels in Chianciano and as supply far exceeds demand they are a good bargain, even in high season . For anyone with a car who wants to tour southern Tuscany (Chiusi, Montepulciano and Pienza are about 20 minutes away, Montalcino 40 minutes) it would be an ideal base. The main north/south autostrada A1 runs 10 km to the east.

London, United...
6 posts
1 review
8. Re: Shearings Excursions

Yes hello and thank you for commenting on my posts. I am happy to write an article on the hotel mizar that i stayed in chianciamo in tuscany for you.

The coach companies that you mention have huge problems here in the UK with customer service attitudes, towards their customers.

They are chasing what they now call the grey pound £££ this is people above the age of 50 years old:

However these companies namely the one you mentioned have major on going issues and attitudes to be concerned about.

I will try to be diplomatic, yes i will agree that is does appear that your hotels are being paid a pittance for the service and quality it gives especially in Chianciamo.

48 seater coaches packed with customers paying about £500 each for 6 nights 9 days over night express travel yields the company about £24,000: Per tour:

They make money on board the vehicles on route with a 2 man crew: I calculated every 2 hours drinks were sold on board at a value of about £25. throughout the whole trip Pro Rata estimation:

The drivers who complain about everything were given rooms and food in the hotels the same as us, they also got food cards to the value of £10 per card and were able to eat luxury food at the road side stopovers, some of them were given to me and I used them and the food you could get was incredible> those drivers were or are tipped by everyone on board the average payout was about £300 in total collected on a 48 seater tour:

This does NOT include these bizarre and odd OFF ROUTE NON Itinerary excursions we were taken to.

We were told to put 5 euros in the tin at the end of the persons shop after being given a guided tour of their business. This matter was reported and a lot of the unofficial excursions were cancelled due to issues.

Latina, Italy
Level Contributor
1,773 posts
9. Re: Shearings Excursions

Just to clarify: I have no commercial interest in Chianciano or its hotels. I am just a long term visitor (I've been going for the thermal cures every year for nearly 30 years now) and have obviously built up a certain affection for the place over the years.

London, United...
6 posts
1 review
10. Re: Shearings Excursions

I have been there Chianciamo once for a week it is a lovely place the people are very nice similar to other northern parts of Italy: The Hotel stayed at was The Mizar both my wife and I have done separate articles:

Very nice place indeed any yes I fell the owner is exploited by UK based holiday firms:

The company should charge more for the short taster stays and pay the hotel owner more lovely place:

In reference to the Rip Off Situation with visits and excursions the trick is quite simple.

1. It generally happens in the south of Italy I know this I have family that come from there:

2. Always check youre change when you buy goods especially if the price is offered and advertised:

3. Never buy from a coffee bar, restaurant or other eatery if the prices are not displayed this can be common: If there is no individual price ticket or no tariff charges displayed in a fold menu or board menu then be careful?

4. In coffee bars especially private run one off bars ie non franchise or chain establishments always ask the price first do not be ashamed. £4 for a cup of coffee can be a painful experience:

When on coach tours beware when the driver introduces you to a passing eatery or coffee bar with a happy smiling waiter waving as the coach goes by:

On one stay I went with one particular UK coach company, the drivers recommendations were the most expensive places in the high street:

They showed us a coffee bar showing food and drink starting from £4, conveniently forgetting to mention the places next door that were selling coffee for £1.20p and pizza from the local regional pizza champion with over 24 Rosettes and awards who was selling his stuff for £1 for a VERY LARGE slice each:

Another place my cousin went to by the British War Graves at Monte Casino (60,000 killed and 250,000 injured and seriously wounded in WW2, in 3 Months) The private restaurant there was a real laugh.

The driver pulled up at the main gates with a coach load, 100 yards away from the car park, went in to the restaurant, came back 5 minutes later then parked the coach and herded the sheep in:

Guess what no prices!!!! on the display cabinets 4 bread roll panini's 4 coffees £30 very funny indeed.

This is Caveat Emptor on these holidays so buyers please be aware:

Some drivers in Scotland have their wives running road side tea and burger vans, it does not suggest that people get overcharged in England, but it does demonstrate the culture of coach driver attitudes.

I went to a local pastry shop in Capri called San Nicola the lady and her brother there makes 600 pastries there daily by hand all different. The pastries are a meal in themselves about 8 inches round each and nearly two inches thick packed with ham mushrooms cheese ricotta the whole 9 yards she fed a family of four 1 each for £5.50p THAT IS IN CAPRI !!!!

Just remember Caveat Emptor buyers beware.

harrington.talbot@yahoo.com

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